Review Fix Exclusive: Inside ‘A Near Dawn’

ReviewFix chats with Leonid Pilchin (@LeonDaydreamer), I am the Creative Director at Far-off Daydream Games who discusses the game and why it’s a must-play.

For More on the Game, Click Here.

Review Fix: How was this game born?

Leonid Pilchin: I’ve been wanting to write a long-form adventure for a very long time. In fact, I’ve been daydreaming about it for years and I would constantly come up with ideas and write down notes about how different stories would go – essentially making 5-volume epics in my mind, because my ideas tend to be quite elaborate and I am very big on character growth and development.

I worked as an animator for many years and in animation you can have long stretches between contracts at different studios. So, on one such break I stumbled onto a program that allows you to create text-based adventure games, and I just began writing. At first there was an attorney named Sam and his mentor Harry, who were discussing their problems over lunch, then came Ally with her own personal baggage, and things kept expanding from there to this solid dark humorous psychological thriller with supernatural and even science fiction elements.

Review Fix: How did you get involved in gaming?

Pilchin: I’ve been wanting to work on games for a very long time. When I was in my teens, I picked up programming and tried to make at least interactive programs, is what they were. They were almost games, because I didn’t have the artistic skills to really make a game. I wound up getting more interested in art and went to school for that, and going into animation. Along the way, I did work at a startup game company. It was very poorly managed, and didn’t go far, but it was an interesting experience.

Review Fix: What are your fondest childhood gaming memories? How did they play a role in this one?

Pilchin: I loved video games since I was a kid. Mario, of course, I think is quite a universal game – my favorite thing about it was visiting different worlds in Mario 3 – a water world, an ice world, a world where everything is four times bigger! It’s just really fun. But more than that, I was very into story-driven games like the Lucas Arts adventures – Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Indiana Jones. Broken Sword is my all-time favorite game! What’s great about these is that the focus is on telling an interesting story with unique characters, and making you laugh along the way. I much prefer them to games that take themselves very seriously.

I recently wrote a post on my blog ( specifically talking about how these games inspired me to create my own original story that follows in their footsteps and hopefully does some things originally, as well.

Review Fix: What was development like?

Pilchin: Well, I am completely in charge of this project. I am doing the writing, directing, producing, character art, user interface, now even voice directing. I often find it difficult to be self-motivated. Especially if I have a full-time job at a studio, it is very hard coming back home and working on more art. So the development for this game was fairly gradual. I would write out a good third of it and have a fully functioning text-based adventure version of it, then I would put it aside for a while, pick up an animation studio contract, and if I had some time along the way I would make some character art for it. Then I would pick it up again after my contract ended and take it as far as I could.

I know that this game is really all on me, and if I don’t keep pushing it, it just will not move. Fast forward a couple of years and I have a fully playable visual Prologue for my adventure game, which I even showed at a gaming convention, I have a great deal of confidence in the project and my ability to complete it the way I have been going.

Review Fix: How did this game change during development?

Pilchin: As I mentioned earlier, this game started as a text-based adventure. That’s all it was going to be at first, just a little experiment to test my writing and storytelling. But the more I got into it, the more I began to believe that there was a really interesting story in what I was writing, and I felt I had to keep pushing it. At first, I was going to add some portrait art, but soon I thought it would look even better in a Visual Novel format, with interactive background art. The project has really come a long way, and what it is now is a blend of traditional Point and Click Adventure with its charm and humor, and Visual Novel. For the first time, I hired and worked with a composer to create the music for it, and I even got voice actors on board to produce this as a fully-voiced adventure game. Needless to say, it’s become an ambitious project, but it has been an amazing experience working with and leading a team of talented artists and actors.

Review Fix: What did you learn about yourself through this game?

Pilchin: This is the first story that I wrote out completely, and the longest project I have worked on. I learned a tremendous amount from it, and I grew immensely as an artist and writer – you can see the differences between some of my earlier designs for this game and what it looks like today. Mostly, I learned to believe in my own work and in my vision. The amount of support I have received for A Near Dawn proves to me that others believe in me, as well.

Review Fix: What’s next?

Pilchin: I am actually waiting to find that out at the moment. We have the Prologue for A Near Dawn out for Windows/Mac/Linux/Android at this time, and I am in the last week of my first ever Kickstarter campaign that I am hoping will help gain support for this project. Right now, we are up to 55% and will need much more help to reach our goal, and if we manage to get funded I am very committed and passionate about this project, and I would be very happy to take it to the end.

If we do not, though that would be unfortunate, it is not the end of the world. I still greatly believe in this project and will continue to produce it in every capacity that I can.

Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?

Pilchin: Just that I hope more people can discover A Near Dawn, we have been getting only good feedback for it so far from people that have tried it. And hopefully, they consider sharing it and supporting us on our journey.

About Patrick Hickey Jr. 7629 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of and is the author of the upcoming book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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